Asset Repatriation

Asset Repatriation - Frequently Asked Questions

Mar 18, 2021 10:46:39 AM

Why should I instruct an asset repatriation specialist?

In today’s day and age, more people are living abroad and with this, overseas assets including bank accounts, shareholdings and property are forming the make up of an estate. By instructing an asset repatriation specialist, such as Title Research, you are in the hands of experts who have extensive experience and a global network of professionals. Asset repatriation specialists provide essential time-saving services, freeing up more of your valuable time to focus your efforts on other important matters. Ultimately, they help to ensure more money is being left in the estate for beneficiaries.

Title Research can assist in accelerating the estate administration process, and each one of our asset repatriation services offer support throughout the estate administration timeline. To find out more about our services, click here.

How does Title Research sell UK shareholdings?

Our many years of experience allows us to confidently guarantee a fast and accurate service when realising assets or selling UK shareholdings on behalf of Personal Representatives. If the share certificates are missing, we can advise on the best approach from the following options:

  • Complete the appropriate forms and pay a missing certificate fee. This can often be a faster approach if the Share Registrar allows

  • When the share certificates are required in order to sell, we can arrange replacement certificates if the originals have been lost

If you are administering an estate that includes certificated UK shareholdings and need to liquidate them quickly, we can assist in accelerating the estate administration process for you. The below timeline allows us to complete the process quickly and efficiently:

  • Instruct Title Research to sell a certificated UK shareholding

  • Shares sold and a contract note provided within 48 hours

  • Proceeds remitted into your client’s account within 7-10 working days

  • Receive proceeds quickly to accelerate the estate administration process

We will draft all required sales documents and send them directly to your client clearly indicating where signatures of the Executor(s) are required.


Why should I instruct Title Research to deal with US or Canadian shareholdings?

In the United States and Canada, it can be extremely difficult to sell or transfer shareholdings and the process can differ from state to state.

If the shareholding and funds are worth more than $60,000USD at the time of death, a Federal Transfer Certificate may be required to obtain tax clearance from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This is often a tedious task which requires a substantial amount of time and effort. However, we can do this hard work for you, as either part of the share sale process or as a standalone service.

A Medallion Signature Guarantee might be needed for shares traded on the US or Canadian Stock Exchanges, or assets that may have become dormant and therefore escheated to the state. Escheatment occurs when a US asset becomes dormant for a specified time period as set out by state law, which is then transferred to the state and usually liquidated. We have extensive experience of different state processes and can help recover escheated assets, maximising the value of the estate for the beneficiaries. On average, we have found that claims for escheated funds take approximately 18 months to 2 years to complete. However, this can substantially increase for those without the knowledge of how to deal efficiently with escheatment.

At Title Research, we have proven processes to verify, transfer or sell North American shareholdings. With our many years of experience, we will complete all the necessary paperwork required, verify the shareholding and transfer or sell the asset, as required.

Administering US assets guide

How do US processes differ from UK processes?

US Share Registrars will not release any information without a Grant which can cause complications if you’re dealing with a large UK estate and gathering evidence to prepare the IHT400 paperwork. Additionally, they will only accept a Grant if it has been sealed and dated within the last 60 days.

Due to the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) reporting rules, cheques can only be reissued to the original payee. If you have cheques on an estate for a US asset that are made payable to the deceased and held in US dollars, it is unlikely that a bank will cash the cheques.

Additionally, dividends received on US assets are subject to a 30% Foreign Withholding Tax. Whilst there are steps to reduce this down to 15%, it needs to be taken into account that dividends owed to the estate will be worth 30% less than expected.

Fractional shares are common with US shareholdings that continue to accrue during the estate administration. It can be difficult to work out what shares are held in the estate at the date of death and what shares have since been accrued.

What are the common problems when dealing with foreign assets?

  1. A Grant of Probate or reseal of an existing UK Grant of Probate may be required depending on the jurisdiction. For example, in Australia and Hong Kong, the Grant of Probate will need to be resealed in order to deal with the assets. However, in jurisdictions such as Jersey and Ireland, a new Grant will need to be issued.

  2. Transferring or selling overseas assets with institutions outside of the UK, in particular the US and Canada, can be difficult to deal with. If you are unfamiliar with the processes in the relevant overseas jurisdictions, it can ultimately slow down the estate administration process.

  3. In some cases, it may be difficult to close overseas bank accounts and retrieve funds. To make this even more of a challenge, you may be faced with a language barrier.

  4. Bankruptcy searches vary between jurisdictions. Some authorities offer free access to bankruptcy records (for example New Zealand and Scotland), however, most jurisdictions require a specific court application to be made with certain information (this sometimes includes a release form signed by the beneficiary).

  5. In jurisdictions such as Thailand, Malaysia, and Hong Kong, you may be required to attend the court in person in order to obtain a Grant of Probate or reseal a Grant.

  6. Similarly, to closing bank accounts, you may run into issues when reaching out to overseas businesses or charities. There may be certain business or charity procedures to pay their inheritance. An additional issue that may be faced, as mentioned previously, is the possibility of language barriers.

These problems can all be easily resolved when instructing Title Research. To find out more about how we can help, download our free guide here.

Puzzle pieces

What are the different charging models and how much does it cost?

At Title Research, we do not offer contingency fees as we believe that the cost should be calculated on the work involved, rather than the value of the estate. Therefore, all our services are either offered on a fixed fee or time and expense basis. We understand that when instructing an asset repatriation specialist, it can be difficult to determine what costs are reasonable. That’s why we are transparent and open about our pricing structure.

As no two estates are ever the same, our fixed fee is dependent on the scope of the work involved. When working on a time and expense basis, our hourly fees are calculated on an overall average of £155 per hour. More specifically, hourly fees are determined by the level of experience and seniority of a particular researcher, additionally, there may be third party costs for our researchers overseas. For more general guidance on Title Research’s fee structure, click here.

We will always offer a fixed fee option for appropriate matters, such as:

  • Dealing with UK shareholdings, including valuation, verification, transfer and sale

  • Dealing with overseas shareholdings, including valuation, verification, transfer and sale

  • Conducting bankruptcy searches on beneficiaries domiciled in overseas jurisdictions

Our time and expense basis fee is appropriate to solve non-standard matters where a bespoke fee is more appropriate.

We’ve created a blog on the topic that takes a closer looker at the advantages and disadvantages of the three main approaches to fees; contingency, time and expense and fixed.

What overseas jurisdictions does Title Research work with?

We’ve developed excellent relationships with local officials in many financial institutions and can work in the following overseas jurisdictions; the USA, Canada, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Kenya, Singapore, Malaysia, Spain, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man. If the jurisdiction where you require assistance is not on the list, please still enquire as we may be able to help.

How can foreign currency volatility be mitigated when transferring funds?

Whether repatriating assets or distributing them to beneficiaries located overseas, the uncertainty of the currency markets can have a significant impact on the amount received by beneficiaries. By paying directly into beneficiaries’ accounts and relying on their bank to perform the currency conversion, money is being lost as a result of uncompetitive exchange rates and transfer fees. But working with the right international payments provider can give you access to excellent exchange rates and fast, free transfers.

At Title Research, our currency transfers are powered by multi-award winning currency provider, TorFX. We can help you achieve a more competitive exchange rate and fast, free transfers so you save a considerable amount on international money transfers. For more information on international currency transfers with Title Research and TorFX, click here. 


At Title Research, we provide trusted genealogical research and asset repatriation services for legal professionals. Everything we do is designed to streamline estate administration, to take the effort out of locating the correct people or assets, and to mitigate against the risk of future dispute or complications. We can help you at every stage of your clients’ estate administration process.

If you’re interested in finding out more about Title Research’s specialist services in both asset repatriation and genealogical research, call our Client Services Team on 0345 87 27 600 or fill in the form below.


















Topics: Repatriating assets, North America, Overseas Assets